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Why migrants who speak indigenous languages slip through cracks in US schools

Many students end up in special education classrooms as schools lack infrastructure and have few, if any, translators

Looking back on her first day of high school in New York, Elisa, 18, can now laugh about it. But on that day, she was nervous. She and her dad navigated the New York subway to get her to class, but they could barely read the maps and were unable to ask anyone for help. Once she got to her first-period class, English, she could not understand the teacher. Elisa could only speak Mixteco.

“How can I connect with other people? How can they help me?” she remembers thinking. “That was so hard for me because I didn’t know how to talk to other people.”

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